Blue Jays fans are significantly less optimistic heading into the 2024 season than they were in 2023 and 2022

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Veronica Chung
24 days ago
After a long, dreary and languid baseball offseason, The Athletic released its MLB Hope-O-Meter results, which are based on the opinions of 22,000 readers who participated in the survey. The core survey question was a simple yes or no question about readers’ optimism for their teams (“Are you optimistic about your team?”) and was designed to induce a wide range of answers from different fans to gauge their thoughts. 
Previously, the Toronto Blue Jays fanbase was bullish about the team’s performance in 2022 and 2023, with optimism scores of 99.1 percent and 97.3 percent, respectively, on The Athletic’s MLB Hope-O-Meter. The skyrocketing optimism was an indication that the fans bought into the idea of stronger and more cohesive player performance after an excruciating playoff miss in 2021. To a certain degree, the Blue Jays improved after 2021 as the team bolstered its roster while keeping the position player core. But weaker bullpen depth and inexplicable core position player regression set the team back, especially during the playoffs. 
Even with the recent playoff expansion and a new Wild Card series format, Toronto was swept in each Wild Card series in the past two years without recording any playoff win. Another noticeable trend in the Blue Jays has been the absence of long-term extensions with younger players. While other MLB teams like the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates have all signed at least one young player to extensions, Toronto hasn’t expressed any indication of signing players like starting pitching Alek Manoah, shortstop Bo Bichette, catcher Danny Jansen and first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to any types of long-term extensions. 
On top of the murky future for the young talent on the Blue Jays’ roster, Toronto’s failed bid on superstar and two-way player Shohei Ohtani dented the fanbase’s optimism this offseason. Although the Los Angeles Dodgers were discussed as the favourites to land Ohtani for months, inaccurate reporting on Ohtani’s signing with the Blue Jays and flight to Toronto contributed to growing pessimism and frustration across the fanbase. However, it’s worth noting that fans’ pessimism reached its peak when the Blue Jays demonstrated their reluctance to spend and opted to sign lesser-known players in the free-agent market. 
Compared to the 2022 and 2023 seasons, it is evident that the Blue Jays roster is in a puzzling place with more crowding in the infield and designated hitter spots while their pitching has taken a hit with a flurry of injury concerns from starting pitchers Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah along with backend relievers Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson. While all these concerns weren’t reflected in The Athletic survey, it’s undeniable that Toronto’s fanbase became disillusioned with diminishing returns and constant underperformance over the past few years. This mounting negativity is the main reason why the Blue Jays only recorded a 31 percent optimism score for the 2024 season, which is a 66.3 percent decline compared to last season. 

In order to reignite optimism in the fanbase, the Blue Jays will have to ensure their core position players are able to bounce back from down years while keeping their pitchers healthy throughout the year. Toronto will also have to make it to the playoffs and secure a playoff win to show that there is reason for optimism moving forward. However, without providing a concrete plan for Toronto’s young players in 2025 and beyond, it will be difficult for the Blue Jays to offer a long-lasting positive outlook to their fanbase. As it stands, Toronto doesn’t have a clear direction on how they will progress and evolve after the 2025 season, which puts both the roster and fanbase in a complicated position. In short, convincing the fanbase to boost their hope and excitement for the team will be challenging without outlining a stable future.
As the offseason comes to a close and the Blue Jays prepare for Opening Day next week, the team will have to prove that its conservative approach to spending can directly contribute to sustainable winning. Remember, the main complaint from the fanbase is the major discrepancy between the ownership’s budget capacity and the money the team spent in reality this offseason. Spending on its own may not necessarily bring championships, but the intention behind that spending speaks volumes to a fanbase because it signals a team’s willingness to try new things to get the job done. 
In the Blue Jays’ case, the situation is also against them because they are in a hyper-competitive division. Baltimore Orioles have started a successful youth movement since last year, the New York Yankees made bigger additions like trading for generational talent Juan Soto, the Boston Red Sox is retooling and looking to bring up younger players and the Tampa Bay Rays always have deadly and successful talents that can easily cream their opponents. This divisional improvement doesn’t work in Toronto’s favour as they hope to get back into contention. 
Toronto has a tall task in front of them and a chip on their shoulders even before the 2024 season starts. Optimism doesn’t fall from the sky; rather, it’s earned through relentless hard work. You could say the Blue Jays got a bit unlucky for the past couple of seasons in some ways, but at some point, their time to prove themselves will run out eventually. Time is ticking for the Blue Jays and if they fail to meaningfully shake things up in the toughest division in baseball, they may be relegated to the unending purgatory whether they like it or not.


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